British Sikh Army officer Preet Chandi becomes first woman of colour to make solo trip to South Pole

Chandi, also known as Polar Preet, completed her solo expedition of 700 miles in 40 days in the tough terrain of Antarctica

FP Staff January 04, 2022 11:50:39 IST
British Sikh Army officer Preet Chandi becomes first woman of colour to make solo trip to South Pole

Preet Chandi, the 32-year-old, began her solo trip to the South Pole in November 2021. Image Courtesy: @polarpreet/Instagram

She's done it! Preet Chandi (or as she is called Polar Preet), a British-born Sikh army officer, has made history.
Preet Chandi has become the first woman of colour to complete a lone expedition to the South Pole.

Writing on her blog, she said: "Hello everyone, checking in from day 40. I made it to the South Pole where it’s snowing. Feeling so many emotions right now. I knew nothing about the polar world three years ago and it feels so surreal to finally be here. It was tough getting here and I want to thank everybody for their support."

Adventurous journey

Chandi, who joined the British Army in 2007, began her wonderful solo expedition on 7 November 2021 flying to Chile. From there, Chandi trekked 700 miles across the ice to the pole by herself, dragging a sledge weighing 90 kgs with all of her gear, fuel, and food.

For those imagining what the conditions were like, here's a picture for you:

The sun never set and temperatures dropped to minus 50 degrees Celsius with the wind chill.

She was all alone throughout the 40 days and her only contact with the outside world was via a daily check-in with her support team, who posted updates on her blog and Instagram.

These updates truly showed how difficult was her trek. On Day 17 of her trek, she had said that she had to face encounter poor visibility. "I couldn’t see anything in front of me. It requires a lot more concentration staring at my compass all day, so pretty tired today. I think travelling in a whiteout is more mentally draining too. But on the bright side, I’m one day closer to the south pole!"

In another post on Day 39, she wrote, “It has been a long few days but I’m doing well and I’m super close now as well. So, the weather can change so quickly here, it was so cold yesterday, I think about minus 45 degrees with wind chill and then in the afternoon there was hardly any wind at all which was amazing.”

Why the trek?

When asked why she wanted to achieve this tough task, she explained that when she first started planning the expedition, she didn't know much about the continent and that's what inspired her.

"Hopefully doing something that pushes me so far out of my comfort zone will inspire others to do believe in themselves and push their boundaries. There are only a few female adventurers that have completed a solo, unsupported trek on this continent. It is time to add some more names, diversity and to make history," she explained in her blog.

She added that 'nothing is impossible' and wanted her eight-year-old niece to grow up without boundaries, knowing the possibilities of what you can achieve in life are endless.

She hopes that her journey inspires future generations in achieving whatever they desire and pushing boundaries. "By promoting and completing this challenge, it allows me to act as a role model to young people, women and those from ethnic backgrounds," she further stated.

Training for the trek

Chandi trained extensively for the solo journey. She trained for crevasse rescue in the French Alps, hiked across Iceland’s Langjökull Glacier, and spent 27 days on the Greenland ice cap.

She also spent months dragging a heavy tyre behind her in England to simulate pulling a sledge.

She has previously completed ultra-marathons such as the Marathon des Sables across the Sahara desert and a 27-day expedition on Greenland’s ice cap.

What’s next?

When she returns, she intends to establish an adventure grant to assist more women in funding unique expeditions.

Speaking to CNN, she was quoted as saying, "It can be for any adventure, any unique adventure they want to do that is pushing some kind of boundary. It doesn't have to be a polar expedition. And I really hope that this is something that will continue, year after year after year."

With inputs from agencies

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